On May 6, YouTube star James Charles was living his best life at the Met Gala, and now, he's losing subscribers by the minute thanks to fellow YouTube star Tati Westbrook, who recently denounced her friendship with Charles in a 43-minute long video titled "BYE SISTER."
This isn't the first time Charles has run into a scandal, as he's caused controversy multiple times over the past few years since his meteoric rise to beauty guru stardom began in 2016, when he was named CoverGirl's first male spokesperson. He's since gained millions of followers, launched a line of apparel, collaborated with makeup brand Morphe on an incredibly popular palette and recently embarked on a tour to meet his fans.
Read on to learn more about Charles' history of scandal and his current drama with Westbrook.
“‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola.’ ‘James we’re fine we could’ve gotten it at chipotle last year’…,” an early 2017 from Charles read. After receiving major backlash, Charles began blocking people who were criticizing him for the tweet, with many calling on CoverGirl to remove him as a spokesperson.
He later posted an apology in which he wrote that he never intended to offend anyone with his words. He also referred to Africa as a country, though he retained his deal with CoverGirl. The deal ended one year after it began.
In a video with Ryland Adams and Shane Dawson, Charles was asked to name the rudest celebrity he had met, with the YouTuber quickly naming Ariana Grande. Charles explained that Grande had DMed him after he attended one of her concerts, only to unfollow him a few hours later after her fans became unhappy that she had followed Charles, as the Ebola incident had been recent.
"I messaged her back, and I was like, 'Hey, did I do something wrong?' And she literally was like, 'Hey babe, I saw a lot of angry tweets from my fans and I would never want to disappoint them, so I unfollowed,'" Charles said. He added that he then wrote her something like, "You have a hundred million fans, it's really disappointing that you would, like, stoop to the level of listening to people bullying me, just to, like, appease them, but okay.'"
In October 2018, singer Shawn Mendes was doing an Instagram live in which he filmed himself juggling, with Charles commenting, "Can you juggle me like that?" Mendes abruptly ended the stream, and while he never explained his reasoning, fans assumed it was because of Charles' comment.
According to Twitter account @PopAlarms, Mendes was overheard saying that Charles "is always commenting weird s— on my posts."
Charles responded on Twitter, writing, "My comments on friend’s & boy’s content have always been light hearted & in a joking manner. I’ve been supporting @shawnmendes since vine & am a fan like anyone else, & would never want to make anyone uncomfortable. Im upset, embarrassed, and sorry if he felt sexually harassed."
Mendes then DMed Charles to clear the air, which Charles shared on Twitter.
In April, Charles appeared in a video with Jeff Wittek and said he was a 5.5 on the Kinsey Scale, a spectrum of sexual identity on which 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual. When Wittek said “So you’re not even full gay,” Charles said no because "there's also been like trans guys in the past that I was like really, really into for a moment."
Fans immediately took that to mean that Charles did not view trans men as real men, prompting the 19-year-old to issue an apology.
in attempt to explain the very complex concept of sexuality (& mine) in my vid today, I unintentionally implied that my trans brothers & sisters arent valid. this is NOT what I was trying to say. you are valid in your identity!! I apologize & should’ve chosen my words wiser!😞🏳️🌈— James Charles (@jamescharles) April 12, 2019
After Charles attended this year's Met Gala, he wrote on Instagram that "being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honor and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst."
The comment raised more than a few eyebrows, with many people pointing out that influencers aren't exactly a marginalized group.
View this post on Instagram
my first met gala 🥺 thank you so much @youtube for inviting me and @alexanderwangny for dressing me! 💕 being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honor and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst. video coming tomorrow!
Things began after Charles posted an Instagram Story promoting Sugar Bear Hair vitamins, which is a direct competitor to Westbrook's company, Halo Beauty. Westbrook posted that she felt "betrayed" by an unnamed person and Charles apologized, but on May 10, Westbrook uploaded her "BYE SISTER" video, in which she publicly stated her friendship with Charles was over.
Westbrook, who is one of YouTube's original beauty gurus and has served as a mentor to Charles, also denounced the teen's behavior, which she says included insulting other beauty influencers, spreading lies about her and making inappropriate sexual comments about a straight waiter at a restaurant.
Singers Zara Larsson and Olivia O'Brien have both since accused Charles of making advances towards their boyfriends, who are straight.
"I'm cackling because he hit up my boyfriend in the dms several times knowing damn well he's straight," Larsson tweeted, later correcting herself and adding, "I feel like deleting this cause I checked and it wasn't several times, only one dm and some comments under pictures."
O'Brien replied to Larsson's original tweet and wrote, "same, sister. s—'s wild."
Singer Olivia O’Brien also comes forward revealing that James Charles DM’ed her boyfriend even though he is straight. pic.twitter.com/kaTT5NVIe5— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) May 11, 2019
Charles issued an apology video on May 10, acknowledging the claims Westbrook had made and expressing his regret over losing her friendship.
"What sucks the most is that I know there's nothing I can say or do to ever earn that friendship or trust back but I don't blame them for it," he said. "A lot of the time when I've had to address things in the past, I've acted out of impulse and I've gone off and tried to pull receipts or facts or screenshots and play the victim and I'm not doing that today, I'm not. That is all I have to say, I'm sorry."
Since Westbrook's video, Charles has lost millions of subscribers on YouTube, going from around 16.5 million subscribers to 13.5 million as of Tuesday afternoon.
In addition, number of high-profile YouTubers and celebrities have unfollowed Charles on various social media platforms including Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Shawn Mendes and YouTubers Emma Chamberlain, The Dolan Twins, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star.
His online clothing store, Sisters Apparel, also appears to be down, though it's not clear why. The distribution site that runs Sisters Apparel, Killer Merch, is owned by Jeffree Star, though it is also unclear whether Star had anything to do with the site's current status.
Photo Credit: Getty / Kevin Mazur/MG19